Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro & Josh Brolin
Synopsis: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the US and Mexico.
Rating: 15 Duration: 121 minutes Release date: 1 February (UK)
Director Denis Villeneuve is certainly one on the proverbial one to watch list. His films already include Prisoners & Enemy and will soon include the much-anticipated Blade Runner sequel, but here and now we have Sicario. His tale of an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) who gets thrown into a case she’d wish she hadn’t had volunteered for is full of tension and suspense, and results in the kind of intelligent thriller that one wished Hollywood would make more of.
A solid start introduces us to the character of FBI agent Kate Mercer (Blunt) while in the midst of a raid on a home in Arizona. The mission, both successful and complete, is complicated when her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) discover several bodies buried within the buildings walls. A further investigation reveals a bomb hidden in another building in the backyard, and its detonation kills two of the officers on the scene.
After what is deemed a successful mission, Kate is hand-picked to join a government sanctioned black-ops team who will search for the men responsible and disrupt the dealings of cartel leader Manuel Diaz. Led by Matt Garver (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), Kate quickly learns that all is not as it seems, and her idealistic view of the world will soon come crumbling down around her.
It’s safe to say that Sicario is a brutal watch at times. Not necessarily in terms of violence, but in terms of its portrayal of real world politics and how people from within the organisations we are told to trust will take the kind of risky decisions that separate us from them. Ironically, no one can be labelled a hero and it’s a rather murky world where the thinnest of lines distinguish between good and bad.
One of the wonderful things that Sicario has in its favour is its excellent cast. Emily Blunt has a bit of Clarice Starling about her in her pursuit of doing everything the right way, her innocence and vulnerability shine among a cast of alpha-males. Benicio del Toro carries the film in a performance full of intricate subtleties and deft looks. Likewise, Josh Brolin does his best Josh Brolin impression and further cements himself as one of Hollywood’s finest actors working right now.
Of course, kudos must go to director Villeneue. His direction is tense and claustrophobic and along with cinematographer Roger Deakins, has created one of the best looking films of the year. Highlights of that are a convoy of armoured government cars travelling through Juarez and a climatic battle in a Mexican tunnel seen through the eyes of the black-ops teams’ night vision goggles.
The end result is a superbly crafted film that feels like a risky move in today’s climate. But this is the type of film that Hollywood should be making more of; tense, well acted thrillers that do a little thought provoking in the process.